Panthers, Vokoun have St. Louis Singing the Blues


A solid team effort last night led by goaltender Tomas Vokoun gave the Florida Panthers their second consecutive victory, on consecutive nights, on the road.  Quite a feat for the previously struggling team.  Riding the momentum of beating the Dallas Stars the previous night 6-5 in a shootout wnner, the Cats displayed some new found resiliency, and actually played one of their best games of the season.

Vokoun getting his first shutout of the season and his first regulation win since the opening victory against Chicago in Finland, was in complete control.  He never looked out of position and while the Blues didn’t have many great chances, Vokoun seemed to make all his saves with relative ease.  With 34 saves on the night, Vokoun gave up virtually no rebounds which limited any second chances by the Blues, who to me appeared to be skating in cement all night.

The goal scoring for the Panthers came from Cory Stillman, The Weasel, Nathan Horton who also added an assist and defenceman Dennis Seidenberg.  The goals for Stillman and Seidenberg were the first of the year for each and Horton’s was an empty netter.  Stillman and Horton have formed a new and productive line along with Steven Reinprecht, which has been actually dangerous over the last few games.  Who knew?  Kudos to coach Peter DeBoer for making the line changes. 

The Panthers finally played a full 60 minutes, albiet against a team that wasn’t operating on all cylinders, a win is a win and as master of the obvious TV analyst Bill Lindsay indicated in his keys to the game, the Panthers kept it simple.  Lindsay also predicted that Stillman would get his first goal. 

Maybe Lindsay is a soothsayer?

The Panthers defense was also more than solid, not giving up the usualy breakaways and odd man scoring chances that they normally do.  Defenceman Bryan Allen had 19 minutes of ice time in his first back to back set of games this season.  It was also the NHL debut of forward Victor Oreskovich who provided exactly what was expected of him.  Energy, physicality, and some scoring chances.  Great story behind Victor who had retired from the game a couple years ago, and was working in Toronto and decided to give it another go.  Oreskovich played for DeBoer previously in juniors and felt that if he came back DeBoer would give him the best chance to make a comeback.  Will be interesting to see this kid some more and if he can stick.

The fourth line  of Kenndal McArdle, The Foreigner, who still is working his way out of the doghouse, and Jeff Taffe saw about 7-8 minutes of time.  However Taffe left the game early after taking a puck to the face on a pass that was deflected.  Taffe is being returned to Rochester today as his Panther NHL debut is over since Dominic Moore is expected to return from facial surgery Wednesday.

Speaking of Wednesday, the Cats will be off till then when the Carolina divercanes Hurricanes come to the Bank Atlantic Center here in Sunrise for a Southeast Division showdown.  Carolina has lost 8 straight games and is losing to San Jose as I type this by a score of 5-1 late in the third period.  Therefore the Canes will probably come to town on the heels of a 9 game losing streak.

Let’s hope that the Florida Panthers aren’t the antidote for what is ailing Carolina.  But know that the Canes are a real pain in the ass whenever they play the Panthers, so the Cats better not take this one lightly.

So a four point weekend that included a shutout, a Hat Trick, and rumours of majority owner Alan Cohen stepping down.  Not bad for a couple days here in paradise right?  Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we still lack a proven number one center and a pure goal scorer, but maybe things can get a little better if they keep this up.

Thanks for reading.